The passage of a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Friday December 21, 2018, which toppled the David Granger-led APNU+AFC government has hastened the formation of a new political party A New and United Guyana (NUG) party. At the helm of the NUG are former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) executive member, Senior Counsel, Ralph Ramkarran; former PPP government minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey; former President of the Guyana Bar Association, Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas and well-known city businessman, Terrence Campbell who is the franchise holder of companies in Guyana such as Fedex, Church’s Chicken and Mario’s Pizza.
The quartet emphasized that their primary and immediate, though not sole objective of NUG is to reform the constitution to reflect inclusive, transparent and accountable governance, promote unity among the races, maintain stability, devise new government systems and structures to cope with and manage the petroleum and gas industries as Guyana prepares to become a major oil producer in the Americas in early 2020.
The executives of NUG have pledged not to join in a coalition with either of the two major parties or sustain them in Parliament should NUG not obtain a majority or a plurality of the votes at elections.
This was said against the background of the Alliance for Change (AFC) which prior to joining APNU, has stated that it will not join with the APNU because if it does, it would become “dead meat” in the eyes of its supporters. This is exactly what happened to the AFC three years after it joined with APNU in 2015.
Describing themselves as four concerned Guyanese citizens, the NUG officials have stated that it became evident that the PNC and the PPP which governed the nation for 28 years and 23 years respectively and now APNU+AFC coalition government which has been in office for almost four years have failed to reduce or end the decades-old racial divisions, or have not delivered on their promise to reform the constitution, reduce crime and improve the lives of the masses.
But given the more than six decades of two party dominance in the country, many are asking if there is room to accommodate a new party. While some believe that there is room for a new party, others felt that the time is not right.
Fueling the need for a third party is based on the belief that a sizeable portion of the population has fallen, become disillusioned with the two main parties, and has embraced the idea that a new party is needed to solve the country’s problems. Indeed, the debut of a new political alternative would definitely widen the choices for the voters and would be a welcome boost for the democratic process in the country.
The more political parties, the more choices, and the better it is for the voters who will be exposed to a wide range of perspectives on the issues. Public debate on competing ideas is the lifeblood of democracy which could be enriched by the presence of a new party that can contribute to a more balanced debate on the issues and decision-making in the public interest.
However, there is evidence to prove that a new or third party does not stand a realistic chance of breaking the monopoly of the two-party system.
The truth is, in theory, third parties have always appeared to the nation to be authentic, but in practice they are doomed to suffer the same fate as all previous third parties mainly because they have not been able to break the pattern of racial voting in the country. Furthermore, third parties have a limited shelf life in that they do not last more than two election cycles.
The United Fore was effective in the 1964 and 1968 elections and the AFC in 2006, 2011 and in 2015, when it joined the coalition, which in essence is two election cycles. The survival of a new party would depend heavily on its viability as a political alternative and its ability to improve the lives of all.
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